Is there a bigger cultural and culinary experience than breaking bread with family and friends, neighbours and relatives, than that at Iftar (the auspicious time after dusk) during the holy month of Ramzan? Perhaps not. Ramzan may as well be the biggest shared food experience in the world. We spoke to our readers to find out what foods make their holy month special.
Hazeena Sayed runs the wildly popular food blog Sauté, Fry n Bake. She uses this blog to publicize traditional Ravathur recipes, which she feels will otherwise die out. “Nonbu kanji is my favourite dish to break the fast," she says. This kanji, also called Aash in Andhra Pradesh, is a rice-based porridge that is made all over Tamil Nadu and Kerala, in all Muslim homes and mosques with a slight variation of the same recipe.
Image courtesy: Nombu Kanji, Hazeena
All mosques in both the states serve the humble kanji for free. “The nonbu kanji is filling, mildly flavoured and served hot, which is very refreshing to your body and soothing to your soul. I have been breaking my fast with this dish from when I was 7 years old, which is the main reason that it's my favourite dish and has so much nostalgia attached to it.” Hazeena goes on to share the popular recipe from her blog.
Anusha Jagadeesh from Mumbai agrees. “There’s nothing more soothing or ideal to break a fast than kanji," she says. Being vegetarian, she uses a modified version of the popular recipe, modified to suit her dietary needs.
Versions of the kanji are made with mutton, chicken, and even vegetables.
Munira Bhagat, a Chennai-ite is from the Bohri community of Muslims. “Typically we break our fast with a date. This is considered auspicious in our culture”, she says. She also shares that her favourite dish and indeed a Bohri staple, is gol pani. This is a decoction made from jaggery, black salt, jeera powder and kiwi seeds optionally. This is very similar to the Tamil panakam, but lighter, which is also used to break fast after Ram Navami for Hindus.
And the reason behind this is simple – this drink is easy on the stomach, aids digestion, prevents acid reflux, combats heat and promotes gut health and is excellent to ease into a heavy feast after a day of fasting. Alternately, Muslims all over the world choose different drinks for breaking their fast, ranging from Qamar al-deen, an apricot-based juice in Cairo to Rooh Afza (our famous rose milk syrup od course!) in Pakistan.
Image courtesy: Hyderabadi Haleem; Screenshot/YouTube
Shabana Parveen, who hails from Delhi says that she’s a big fan of mutton keema masala, shahi tukda, and rose milk with watermelon on Jama Masjid Road in Old Delhi. “Mutton keema masala is a family favourite," she adds.
While kanji or porridge dominates the “breaking the fast” dish of choice, Haleem is the uncrowned monarch of the Ramzan feasts. Indeed, Meenakshi Bharadwaj, who hails from Hyderabad notes that Haleem’s popularity transcends borders and religion. “People get biryani and haleem packed in kilograms from here,” she says.
Haleem is a super popular Arabian stew made of wheat or barley, meat and lentils. Introduced to India by the Persians, specifically the Mughals, it is a prepared with dry fruits and vegetables in large quantities fit for communal sharing during Ramzan.
Image courtesy: Pathiri; Screenshot/YouTube
Benazir Fathima, hailing from Kulasekarapatnam, lists the popular dishes during Ramzan for different regions of the country with ease. She says Ari/Omana/Kai/Erachi Pathiri is one of Kerala’s favourites to eat at during Ramzan. Pathiri is a rice-flour based pancake, which is made with vegetables, fish, chicken or mutton. It’s sort of like a stuffed paratha but more Malabar in taste and recipe.
Oh but how can any feast be complete without desserts? And you don’t necessarily have to be Muslim to enjoy the best sweet treats of the season, as proved by Archana Mohan, another Chennai-ite. “My friend’s mum used to make the BEST double ka meetha," she gushes. “I’ve never had anything quite like it at restaurants," she adds. This dish is a bread pudding of sorts, in which a deep-fried piece of bread is dunked into sugar syrup and topped with saffron and cardamom-flavoured rabdi. Hence the name, thanks to the double dunk. It’s also called Shahi Tukda in the North.
Image courtesy: Double ka meetha; Screenshot/YouTube
Meenakshi concurs. “Double ka meetha and Khubani ke meetha instantly bring the taste of Ramadan home," she says. The latter is a sweet made from dried apricots with kewraand rose water and is a staple at Muslim weddings.
What are your favourite Ramzan dishes? Do tell us!
Double Ka Meetha
Happy Diwali to all my dear friends. It is the festival of lights and sweets. From the newspapers to the shops everywhere it is “Sweets ka Dhamakka”. Look at the many different varieties of sweets; it is temptations galore for all the sweet lovers. So, I am in a sweet mood today and wanted to make this sweet dish called “Double Ka Meetha”. The first time I had this in Dubai, at our friend’s home. Jebin, our friend, is a great and dedicated cook and has a Midas touch. This sweet dish she made was so delicious and soon it became one of our favourite desserts like Trifle delight, Apple Biscuit crunch and Chocolate Brownie. “Double” is another name for Bread and is a Bread pudding dessert of fried bread slices soaked in sweetened milk with nuts and Saffron. Let me warn you, once you have it, you would certainly come back for more.
Indians love sweets and Laddoos, Jalebi, Peda, Kheer are all very popular. Each region has its own unique sweets. In Kerala, varieties of Payasam like Palada Payasam, Ada Pradhaman, Parippu Payasam etc. Hyderabad’s Double Ka meetha is famous like its Hyderabadi Dum Biriyani. This is a very rich dessert with ghee, sweet and the rich nuts that, too much indulging would make you run to the gym for extra work out. It is my Matthew’s favourite dessert, so I always make little quantity at home, to avoid too much temptation. But then, it is Diwali time, forget about dieting and start eating. Gym can wait, but “Double ka Meetha” can’t. So are you ready for the sweet expedition??